Confronting Ghosts

by jbyron

So. I got the idea to do a couple of smaller pieces for the upcoming show. Pieces that i can price at or below $100. I live in a relatively small town in the south, not exactly a creative hub, where the size of a painting is directly related to the price – whether it should be or not is up for debate. So I had 2 very clear ideas for what i wanted to do. One design was of a woman in her under garments, smoking; had a very film noir vibe to it. The other was of a couple kissing on a motorcycle. Neither concept would find it’s way to completion. Not for a lack of trying.

The smoking woman looked okay, i just didn’t like it. So while the paint was still mostly wet, i added a little paint thinner, a little wood stain, a little pearl-x silver powder, and some dabs of paint (dark reds and yellows mostly). The idea was to create a background for a foreground i had yet to come up with; somewhat hoping the background would inspire said foreground… it did. The end result looked like the texture of one of those antique, silver photos. Now the goal was to find or create an image that worked with that vibe.

It should be noted that i keep a vast catalog of imagery that i find interesting and/or inspiring. Photos, illustrations, architecture, vehicles, fashion, animals… and for some reason, a lot of hipster women and riot photos. I collect these images as i randomly come across them online. I’m rarely looking for an image, they usually find me. Many have found their way into my paintings in one way or another, usually in an undetectable way. I’ll turn photos into stencils or elaborate on an idea or mood and so on.

So once i had my background, i had a good idea what image i wanted to use and how.

I’ve used that photo transfer method a couple of times now. Still learning. In fact, that reminds me, take note readers: wood stain has so many uses that have zero to do with wood. Anyway, the image i had in mind was a haunting photo of soldiers wearing gas masks, standing with their horses. Not sure who gets credit for the photo or where i found it, but it goes a little something like this:


Dope, right? I do have a thing for masks. My psychiatrist says it’s because i’m always hiding behind what others expect of me… just kidding, i don’t see a psychiatrist… anymore… she won’t return my calls. Mental illness is nothing to laugh about. So here’s what i did with the photo. Bask:


Once i applied the image and all was well, i was stuck. It looked cool but, like the smoking woman that preceded it, it didn’t have that thing… that X-element that makes it mine. So as i often do, i took it into the computer and started playing. The glowing eyes were a must. Done. But what else? I had it! A My Little Pony stencil right over the top. I’m not kidding. I designed it and everything. Thought it would work with my innocence vs. angst thing i’m so fond of. And it might have worked if only i could’ve found a placement that didn’t seem to interfere more than assist. In the end, the grid was a simple solution that gave it some perspective plus a Tron-vibe that every vintage photo needs. Most importantly, now i felt like it reflected my tastes. This whole art thing is an experiment in narcissism.

The canvas is 12 inches, square. I titled it “GHOSTS.” Here’s a detail:


So that’s one. The other i won’t be showing just yet. Nothing to show really. Basically same back story. Nearly completed the painting, wasn’t feeling it, started over and a great background was born from the process. Phoenix metaphor yo. Only the background in question has yet to reveal what sort of foreground it needs. This background/foreground thing is probably a very limited perspective… i’ll work on it. In the meantime, i thought i would show you fine people the front of my mailer advertising the upcoming show. This will also be the look for other marketing materials, as well as the new look for my gutterpark site (already updated). I’m calling the show “confrontations” which is what i consider each of my pieces to be. If not for the viewer, certainly for me as i create them. Originally i was calling the show “Black Guilt” but that got tricky for reasons i won’t go into – then i considered “Kid Gloves. Brass Knuckles” (which is from a Doomtree song) but i think i’ll save that one for the inevitable coffee table book that Taschen will publish after my untimely death.


Until next time. Thanks for reading. – jbn